Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll and Thanksgiving, 2010

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving again. It's the one holiday that my family spends at our home, instead of joining the extended family. It seems to be the least child-oriented, and we can have an entire feast that is vegan. A few years ago, I changed what I did and started letting my family pick their favorite dishes to be served at this meal. So, sometimes we get a mix of traditional and unorthodox menus. Last year's menu is under my Savory Bulgur Dressing recipe.

This is this year's menu:
Tofurky with Gravy: picked by both GR and SR
Cranberry Sauce: picked by SR
Homemade Fries: picked by SR
Tofu Rice Rolls: picked by GR
Slow Cooked Pinto Beans: picked by G
Squash: picked by G (I baked zucchini and crookneck along with potatoes, red onions, celery and carrots with the Tofurky Roast)
Sparkling Apple Cider: picked by Me
White Cake with White Frosting: picked by JK
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll: picked by Me

Besides JK not understanding why he couldn't have his cake now the day before Thanksgiving, at breakfast on Thanksgiving, for lunch on Thanksgiving, and on his dinner plate on Thanksgiving, things went very well. You can see the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll below, along with my plate and the cake. What follows are pictures for the Roll and the recipe. It's something I've made before and is a hit every time.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

My delicious plate, mm-mmm!

JK's White Cake with White Frosting. I mean our cake, right, JK?

What the beaten Egg Replacer will look like

Rolling up the cake part of the Roll

The Roll cooling inside its towel

The cream cheese filling

A slice of Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Okay, who am I kidding? This is what I really ate; I had to move it to a bigger plate to accomodate both pieces.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Pumpkin Cake:

1 and 1/2 Tbs. of EnerG Egg Replacer
6 Tbs. of water
1 cup vegan sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts, ground coarsely (I use the food processor)
1 cup or so of powdered sugar

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 oz. package of vegan cream cheese, room temperature
4 Tbs. vegan margarine room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla


For the Pumpkin Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 10 by 15 inch jelly roll pan with an oil spray, or you can use a cookie sheet with a one inch lip all the way around. Cover the pan with a sheet of waxed paper and spray that as well. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the Egg Replacer with the water for five minutes on medium or medium high speed, until it loses its watery consistency and slightly thickens. Continue beating and slowly pour in the sugar, and beat well. Stir in the pumpkin puree and lemon juice. In another bowl whisk the rest of the cake ingredients together, except for the walnuts and powdered sugar. Stir the dry ingredients in with the wet and pour over waxed paper. Make sure it is evenly spread and reaches all the edges and corners of the covered pan. Sprinkle the nuts over the batter. Bake for 15 minutes. While its baking, lay out a clean dish towel and sprinkle enough powdered sugar to cover the entire towel with a thin layer. Remove cake from oven and quickly flip the pan upside down over the towel. Carefully remove the waxed paper, and starting at the short end, slowly roll up the towel with the cake inside it. Let it cool completely on a cooling rack, with the towel's seam down.

For the Cream Cheese Filling: While the cake is baking and cooling, set your margarine and cream cheese on the counter to get room temperature. When the cake is completely cool, begin to make the filling. In a small bowl, beat all the filling ingredients together at medium speed, until smooth and creamy. Carefully unroll the cake, leaving it on the towel, and spread the filling evenly over the cake. Re-roll the cake, this time leaving the towel on the counter. Place on a serving dish and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. You will have nuts and sugar left over on the towel, so fold it up and either sprinkle in a bowl for some future delight or shake it off in your sink. This is very good and looks decadent, perfect for a holiday meal. Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Quesadilla Spirals

Here is a simple quesadilla dish that's quick and easy to make. I decided to roll them up and call them spirals to impress my family! What do you think?

Spicy Quesadilla Spirals


10 homemade or store bought flour tortillas
2 cups of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, Nacho style, finely shredded


Move the top oven rack down into the position second from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Divide the cheese between each of the open tortillas, sprinkling over their full surface, not just on one side. Roll up into a wonderfully, seductive spiral shape. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for ten minutes. If there are any edges that are a bit too crispy, carefully crack them off. Blow and eat! So good. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin and Kale Quesadillas

Here is the very first recipe I made with our pumpkin puree. It was actually a dish of necessity because I had to go grocery shopping, and our cupboards were down to their last. So, I made some flour tortillas, picked some kale from our garden, used up the last of our vegan cheese and didn't freeze one of our bags of pumpkin puree. And, ta-daa, pumpkin and kale quesadillas! They were pretty darn good, if I say so myself, and a bit on the elegant side for my clan.

Pumpkin and Kale Quesadillas

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups kale, stems pulled and chopped
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded
10 homemade flour tortillas (or your favorite store bought brand)


Set oven rack to second from bottom position. I have four positions, so if you have just three, set it on the bottom position. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. In a small pot, heat the pumpkin puree and spices on medium heat. If it bubbles too quickly, turn heat down to medium low. Heat until warmed through, then set aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil. When heated, add the kale and saute until they turn a bright green, about five minutes or less. Divide the pumpkin mixture, kale leaves and shredded cheese evenly between the tortillas on one side. Fold them in half and bake for about ten minutes until the cheese is melted. Be careful not to burn the tortillas. If you have a couple of too-crisp edges, just crack those off. Cut each tortilla in half, so you have twenty triangular quesadillas. So good. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Final Pumpkin Harvest and Prep

Well, after the children picked their pumpkins that were dedicated to become jack o'lanterns, and after the neighborhood kids picked out theirs, these are the pumpkins that were left in our garden to harvest. Quite a lot, I think, for a home garden. The children's pumpkins were pardoned from the slaughter; they will go to seed back in the garden bed. SR's pumpkin, Penelope, made a showing for this picture: she's the pinkish one in the back right corner. Preparing the pumpkins for the freezer was quite laborious, but now I have plenty of bagged pureed pumpkin for future dishes. Well worth the effort! See below my steps to get them from the wheelbarrow to the freezer.

This is G's wheelbarrow full of different varieties of pumpkins. He cut them all off the vine for me, which is harder than it sounds. They can stubbornly cling to the vine, and the stems of our pumpkins had spiny thorns all over them.

Washed free of loose dirt, waiting for processing. You can see some of those thorny stems I mentioned.

They were hard as rocks, unlike the ones you get at stores or pumpkin patches. So, G suggested I boil them first to soften them, much like a potato. Very ingenious. I fit as many pumpkins as I could in my largest pot and boiled for at least fifteen minutes. Some took twice as long, depending on their size. They were done when I could either stick them with a fork or a sharp knife. Be careful during this step. Use tongs to put them in the water and remove them, by their stems. Turn them over a few times while they boil. When you prick them, they release hot, liquidy bubbles. Set them aside to cool enough, so you can handle them.

This is what a boiled pumpkin looks like inside. Scoop out the guts and seeds and set aside - you can rinse and bake the seeds later. I actually have so many seeds, several cups worth, that I'm still sorting them! Yay!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each pumpkin half with foil, just covering the top is fine, or wrapping the whole half is fine, too. Bake for at least an hour. If your pumpkins are soft when you get them, you can skip the boiling step and bake for an hour and half. Remove the foil and set aside for a few minutes to cool. I had all the pumpkins going in different stages: while some were boiling, others were baking. Also, some of my pumpkins were so soft after the boiling step, that they skipped the baking step and went straight into the food processor to get pureed.

Scoop out the flesh from the shell and puree in a food processor until completely smooth. Some pumpkins were still a little firm after baking; it didn't seem to matter their size. For these, I chopped first and added a couple of tablespoons of water to get them moving. Don't add too much because you don't want watery puree. If you feel they are too firm, bake them a little longer. Pretty color, don't you think?

Cool the puree enough , so you can bag it. I scooped out one cup measurements and put them in sandwich bags. I ended up with 23 cups of puree! My garden is my number one way I have saved money on groceries. If you have space for even a small pot, I highly recommend planting something to grow and eat.

Now, on with the pumpkin recipes! You should be seeing these very soon and later, as well. That's what's so nice about freezing and canning: you can have wonderful dishes from fruits and veggies that were harvested at the peak of their season and have kept their rich taste. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big Salads with Tempeh Bits

Here is another one of my big salad ideas. Every now and then I like to serve big, individual salads for each of us for dinner as our complete meal. To top these salads, I made tempeh bits as a sub for store-bought bacon bits, and I really like the nutty result. The tempeh bits even passed the test with some meat-eatin' friends with kids at a different meal, so that's great! I also like to blanch my broccoli sometimes for salads, instead of serving them completely raw. They seem to go down easier for my blessings that way. So, below I've listed what's in our most recent big salads, including a short recipe for the tempeh bits and also a note on blanching broccoli, if that's new to you. Enjoy!

Big Salads with Tempeh Bits


2 Hearts of Romaine or one big head of Romaine, chopped small
1 block of tempeh
1 Tbs. canola oil
Garlic salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of chopped broccoli florets
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped
1 can of water-packed and quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 avocados, quartered and sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered and cut into wedges
1/4 red onion, sliced thin and quartered


For the tempeh bits: Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Crumble the tempeh into the pan in its individual bits. Sprinkle just a bit of garlic salt and pepper over the tempeh. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure you get the tempeh to brown before you are done cooking it. It eliminates any bitter flavor and releases a wonderful, nutty taste. Very good!

For the blanched broccoli: Heat a few cupfuls of water to boiling in a medium pot. Add the broccoli and boil for three minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

For the salad: Use the lettuce as a base on each plate, and add the toppings as desired. Drizzle your favorite salad dressing on top. Eat up! Delicious. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sauteed Elbows with Corn, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Meatballs

This is a fun dish that's an easy way to use up leftover pasta. I know, it's hard to believe that my family has any leftovers, but if I make a big bag of pasta, I can usually get something for lunch or dinner the next day. Anyhow, this dish uses up leftovers and is reminiscent of my Garbage Tofu in that whatever is available in the way of veggies and protein, I'll usually throw in. This combo was especially delicious, so I thought it good enough to be added to my recipes here. This can also be considered an end-of-the-month meal, since that's usually when I'm scrounging around trying to find enough scraps to throw together one last meal before payday. We had this a few days ago right before the green landed in the bank. What do you think of an end-of-the-month meal category? Are there enough budget-minded people out there that they would find this interesting and helpful?

Sauteed Elbows with Corn, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Meatballs

1 bag of vegan meatballs
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 cup frozen corn
5 cloves of garlic, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
1 pound of leftover large elbow macaroni or another small pasta
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste


Bake the meatballs according to package directions. When done, cool enough, so you can cut them in half. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Crunch up the corn with your hand, while it's still in the bag, and add to the oil. Cook for about three minutes or so, then add the garlic. Cook for another three to five minutes, until the corn is warmed through and the garlic is fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients, including the meatballs. Turn the heat down to medium low, and cook for ten minutes, until heated through. Stir occasionally. Delicious and simple. Serves five hungry vegans.